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There Is No Alternative: Why Margaret Thatcher Matters

Publisher: Basic Books • 2011 • 400 pages

Margaret Thatcher was one of the most vigorous, determined, and successful enemies of socialism the world has ever known. As Britain’s Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990, she took a sledgehammer to the nation’s postwar socialist consensus — privatizing state-owned industries, curbing the power of labor unions, reducing welfare, and instituted other free-market reforms that transformed a financially weak and ungovernable Great Britain into a rich and influential global powerhouse. In so doing, she proved to the world that socialism could be reversed and, along with her friend and ally Ronald Reagan, helped to inspire a global free-market revolution. Now, in “There Is No Alternative: Why Margaret Thatcher Matters,” Claire Berlinski explains what Thatcher did, why it matters, and how she she pulled it off — producing a vivid and immensely readable portrait of one of the towering figures of the twentieth century.

  • How a preternaturally determined grocer’s daughter rose from lower middle-class origins to seize control of Britain’s Conservative party
  • Her fluent command of both the Old and New Testaments — and how it became a notable aspect of her political personality
  • “The Lady’s. . not. . for. .turning!” The story behind one of her most famous — and defining — speeches
  • “I hate Communists”: why her unflinching willingness to express hatred of Marxism in all its forms was the core of Thatcherism
  • Womanly ways — and wiles: how Thatcher’s distinctly feminine qualities helped make her message and leadership effective
  • Why Thatcher was exceedingly proud of the unoriginality of her economic opinions — and held it to be a measure of their value
  • The Falklands War: how it made a tremendous difference to British credibility and prestige — and to Thatcher’s in particular, both at home and abroad
  • “The enemy within”: how Thatcher faced down the miners’ unions — and brought an end to the era of widespread labor strikes in Britain
  • Ronald Reagan: why Thatcher admired — even envied — him so much, plus fascinating details of their friendship
  • How Thatcher’s anti-socialist revolution in Britain, combined with the impact of her personality on the international stage, contributed to the global disenchantment with Marxism in the ’80s and afterward
  • How, by setting a domestic example of socialism reversed, she proved a point: the forces of history did not inevitably lead to socialism, as Marx had predicted — nor was it true that once socialism arrived there was no going back
  • How even the United States took its cues from Thatcher, embarking on schemes to denationalize public monopolies
  • “We are all Thatcherites now”: the Iron Lady’s indelible and lasting impact on British politicians — even her former sworn enemies
  • How Thatcher conveyed more effectively than any other politician in history — even Ronald Reagan — that the real case against socialism wasn’t economic, but moral
  • Thatcher’s crucial role in reversing the seemingly terminal decline of Britain
  • “This is what we believe!” Thatcher’s dramatic challenge to the politics of so-called “pragmatism” at a historic gathering of British conservatives
  • How Thatcher conveyed through her words and actions that Britain’s decline was not an inevitable fate, but a punishment for the sin of socialism

Ultimately, Berlinski argues, Margaret Thatcher matters because socialism is again on the rise — and only those societies willing to do what Thatcher did will prevail. The struggles of Great Britain in the 1980s, then, as Claire Berlinkski so vividly recounts them here, remain vitally relevant to Britain and Europe, and to the world.

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